Bell Canada sets sights on IP mass migration

The new watchword for Bell Canada might be “duality.”

William Bangert, the man charged with the role of helping Canadian enterprises to upgrade their networks to IP has been in his current role for about four months. Officially,

his title is senior vice-president of enterprise business development. Prior to Bangert, the position didn’t exist.

“Before my tenure, we probably looked at the world with more a bifurcated lens,” he said, “with marketing on the one hand and corporate and business development on the other. I think this is a reflection of a more integrated approach.”

Bell is drawing up plans to move its top 1,000 enterprise customers on to IP networks. Here too there must be an integrated approach, since legacy networks can’t easily be dismissed.

There are plenty of Canadian companies “that are still making do with 1970s technology,” said Iain Grant, president of Montreal-based SeaBoard Group. “To drag them kicking and screaming into the 21st century might not be appreciated. There is a whole bunch of legacy stuff out there – even post-Y2K – that has to be looked after.”

Bangert, who’s previous jobs included stints at Gartner Inc. and AT&T, said that IP plans will have to tailor-made for many of those 1,000 users Bell has targeted. He spoke to recently about those plans, as well as the early adopters and the advantages customers can expect to see. Can you describe your role at Bell?

William Bangert: My role here is to support my boss Isabelle Courville who’s the president of the group, in putting together the growth strategies that will help drive ourselves as an ICT player.

ITB: In terms of customer strategy, what’s the crux of your role?

WB: Obviously it’s important for us to be thinking at the same time as we look at the program for converting customers, we have to be thinking about the ways in which they exploit the productivity gains they get from it.

ITB: If you’re trying to convince customers to make this move to IP, what would you tell them?

WB: I think the way you have to look at this is the ROI that a customer is going to get from individual programs. We would look at it on an individual program-by-program basis and look at the ROI that’s involved for the client and make a very detailed recommendation for them.

ITB: Are you expecting to see a lot of customers staying in mixed environments?

WB: The important thing here is, there’s a lot of productivity gains to be derived for customers who moved to IP. It opens up a whole world of possibilities in terms of how they manage applications and how applications interplay with one other. Of course, we want to be the best in the market, we want to be a leader.

ITB: What sort of roadblocks or obstacles are you facing in trying to encourage more people to take advantage of IP networking?

WB: I wouldn’t call them roadblocks or obstacles, but every customer is different. And when you’re dealing with an enterprise client, you have to put a transition program in place for them that serves their interests. One shouldn’t rush.

ITB: What sort of goals do you have around moving your customer base over to IP? Is it more a transitional role or do you see people leaving their legacy networks behind and adopting IP wholesale?

WB: Well, eventually we would like to get to a situation where most of our customers are on IP because that supports our program as building ourselves as a leading ICT supplier. IP is an important basic building block for enabling that to happen.

ITB: Are customers more swayed by the advantages of voice or data when it comes to IP?

WB: That is, I think, a consumer-centric question. In the corporate world, the advantages of IP and the productivity that it drives is the way in which you manage your application suite, ultimately.

ITB: So voice is more of a secondary concern?

WB: In the enterprise, voice becomes an application, so I wouldn’t describe it as secondary. There aren’t two worlds anymore.

ITB: In terms of Bell’s own ROI, what do you stand to save by encouraging more customers to move over to IP?

WB: Obviously, we have a strategy which is well known – delivering bandwidth where it’s required to our clients, simplifying our product portfolio and our systems so that our clients can use them better and ultimately to provide them with the new generation of communication services that are coming along. IP becomes a core foundation to achieving all of those things.

ITB: In terms of your customer base, who’s the most enthusiastic about moving to IP?

WB: I think with firms like Manulife, you see an example of very large corporations in the financial services sector being very enthusiastic adopters. You also see it with Bank of Montreal. I think it’s generally more true that financial services have historically been seen as early adopters of technology in business across the board.

ITB: Are there any segments that would be slower to come along?

WB: I think that the cutting edge innovators in any sector you will see as adopters and leaders. There are certain sectors which probably are a little behind others, like mining and extraction industries for example.

ITB: Are smaller firms less will willing to adopt IP?

WB: I don’t think you can declare that there are trends either way. Different businesses have different drivers that motivate them.

ITB: What about your competition? Telus is quite aggressive in terms of IP offerings.

WB: I think what you’ll see is Bell is pushing very hard in an integrated ICT offering to large corporate clients. I think you’ll also see that there’s recognition in the marketplace that we’re playing a leading role in that.


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